Monday, April 30, 2007

Sunday 23rd February 1936

Kerridge called me at 7 o’clock and we walked two miles along country roads, to a church at Welwyn. Walking back, I had my first pipe of the day. (A lovely smoke, that first one!) We had breakfast in a large bare room, with trestle tables, laid like three sides of a rectangle.

Kerridge introduced me to the “boys”, all ex-tramps, who were in the “rec”, a converted barn with a big fireplace. Whilst talking to one chap, my cigarette end became too small to smoke in comfort. As I looked for an ashtray, my companion politely took the stub from me, having a few luxurious drags before he threw it away!
Some of the “boys” do kitchen work, others farm work, some run a small sawmill – and they’re all new to the job!

At sound of the dinner bell the “rec” was a mass of hurrying figures. The “boys” wasted no time over the meal either. The first man left the room within five minutes and a few seconds later only empty plates and the more leisurely staff people remained. Three of us went into the staff room and sat smoking by the fireside, talking “shop”. Large cups of tea without saucers were bought in. It was very cosy.

Left at half past three and travelled by main roads. Potters Bar, Barnet and the North Circular. The Great West (had a snack at a tough little café), Hounslow and Staines – 8 o’clock.

I had supper in the small kitchen, where the family sat – five of them altogether; one of the children had already been put to bed in the sitting room.

This has been Christopher’s Swan-song. I promised him that before we started. No more long journeys for Christopher, just local runs – to and from the works etc.


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